Ultimate Guide to Lower Back Pain Without Surgery or Medication
Suffering from lower back pain is not only physically painful, but it can also have an impact on your mental health. Constantly being attacked by aches and pains, whether you are walking to the local store or sitting at your desk can quickly become overwhelming. But thankfully, you are not alone.
With over 70% of people suffering from some form of low back pain in their life, it is an extremely common disorder. Due to how common it is, there are lots of different ways you can get relief from your back pain today.
If you are looking for temporary relief for chronic back pain, or you want to prevent pain from appearing in the future, we have just the article for you. Below are a few of the best ways to look after your back and mental health!
The types of lower back pain
In most cases, there are two types of lower back pain that may be caused by a range of different causes. Below you will find a rough breakdown of the two main types of back pain, and how you can tell the difference between the two.
Chronic low back pain
Chronic low back pain will usually build up over multiple years due to an underlying health condition. Some of the most common causes of chronic back pain are a lack of exercise, age, and general health conditions.
A herniated disc and lumbar disc disease are just a couple of the causes of chronic low back pain. If you notice pain symptoms for long periods, then we would recommend you contact a doctor as you may be suffering from an issue with your spinal column or lumbar.
Acute low back pain
Acute back pain will usually appear rapidly due to an injury that has recently occurred. It will typically only last a couple of weeks as the most common cause of acute low back pain is due to muscle strain or nerve compression. If it lasts any longer than six weeks, then you may be suffering from chronic low back pain.
What causes acute back pain?
Falls and slips
We are all prone to slipping up and injuring ourselves at any point, but a particularly nasty fall can lead to severe lower back pain. Whether that's due to muscular damage or bruising around the back, falls and slips are some of the biggest causes of lower back pain.
A lack of physical exercise can also cause lower back pain, especially if you maintain a bad posture while sitting. There is a misconception that you can't strain your back whilst sitting or resting, but this just isn't the case.
Our backs and our spinal canal are both designed to adapt to regular movement, and a lack of movement can cause a range of issues. Although you should try to avoid heavy lifting, if you do suffer from back pain, you should try to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle - This can also help improve your emotional health.
A 30-minute walk can make a world of difference and help keep acute low back pain at bay. If you mainly sit whilst working, try to stretch and exercise every hour or so to prevent the muscles surrounding your spinal cord from growing weak.
During visits to the gym, we all may be tempted to lift the heaviest weights available, but this can lead to problems with your spinal column if not done correctly. As lifting places a lot of force on the back and shoulders, as well as the upper body and abdominal muscles, you can cause serious injury if your form is incorrect.
Sitting down for extended periods
Much like a lack of physical activity, sitting down for long periods will also lead to a weaker back. This in turn may lead to pain symptoms due to muscles weakening around your spine. When possible, find a space where you can stand up and stretch between long sitting periods.
Posture should also always be considered when working at a desk. Try to keep your eyes level with the top of your monitor and your arms relaxed, resting on your desk. If you start to notice lower back pain symptoms then be sure to gently exercise your lower back and take more frequent stretch breaks.
How to relieve acute pain in your lower back
Rest your back
Sometimes relieving pain is as simple as giving the afflicted area a break. Pain can build-up due to too much strain on a particular muscle, so letting it relax is a great way to help soothe acute aches and pains.
There are a few ways to rest your back, but resting in bed is not the same as resting your back. However, if you do plan on getting into bed anytime soon, Resting with your legs curled up and a memory foam cushion between your legs is a great way to relieve stress from your lower back.
Avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous exercise that includes your back may be required as your lumbar region may require a break. Light exercises are still recommended such as treadmill walking and yoga, but lifting heavy weights should be avoided where possible.
Ideally, you don't want to rest completely as the back and spinal cord are designed to constantly move, so a lack of exercise can also cause issues. Too little exercise and your back can seize up, so it's ideal to balance rest and light exercise where possible.
If after a few days your pain hasn't subsided, then the issue may require a stronger solution than giving your lower back a break.
Use temporary pain relief
Although not a solution to whatever is causing the pain, temporary back pain relief is worth trying. There are a few methods of temporarily relieving pain from internal medicine to herbal teas, but you will find they work differently for each person.
When trying to get temporary relief, no matter whether it's for back pain, leg pain, or any other form, testing out a range is the best way to find which one works best for you.
Massagers, such as this Ancient Roman Neck Massager are great at quickly relieving pain around the lower back. Usually used to relieve muscle strain, massagers can target deep tissue and muscles to provide temporary relief.
Use heat/ice patches
Heat and ice packs are an excellent way to soothe aches and pains. Most people may say one is better than the other when it comes to lower back pain, but a lot of it will come down to personal preference.
Ideally, we would recommend you try both out where possible as you may find one that works best for you. You will usually find that heat will help with tight muscles and stiff joints, whereas ice can help bring down swelling.
Extreme heat and ice packs can cause damage if used for too long, so try to only use a heating pad or ice pack for around 15-20 minutes maximum. If your pain doesn't abate by then, consider trying an alternative pain relief method in a couple of hours.
Keep your posture in check
Ensuring you maintain the correct posture, especially when sitting down, is a great way to relieve lower back pain. There are a few products out there that can help alleviate stress on your lower back and spinal cord such as straps and bands.
An ideal way to maintain good posture is to try to keep your spine aligned. To do this you should keep your head held and your back supported when sitting down. As difficult as it can be, you should also try not to slouch during extended sitting periods.
A great way to maintain good posture for extended periods is to invest in a back brace. The Ancient Roman Back Brace is designed to help improve your posture and keep low back pain at bay. Through spinal manipulation, it can keep your lumbar spine straight and offer you the support you may sometimes need.
Do not sit down for too long
Sitting for too long will cause inactivity, which is surprisingly bad for your spinal column as it is designed to move. Sitting for too long, especially with a bad posture, will cause stress on specific parts of your spine which can quickly cause low back pain.
There are a few solutions to help you get up and move between extended sitting positions, or avoid them completely. One of the most popular options out there, and quickly becoming the norm is a standing desk. Standing desks are designed to offer you support for standing for long periods, and can be a great alternative to traditional desks.
Posture should always be considered too, no matter whether you are standing or sitting as this will ensure your lumbar spine is aligned correctly. If you feel any tightness or aches, then you should be sure to get up and stretch!
Get physical therapy
Physical therapy can be extremely effective at relieving back pain and its causes. A professional massage can help soother spinal nerve roots and remove tension across your entire body, not just your lower back.
Chiropractors can also offer incredible assistance and give you the physical therapy suited to your lower back pain. Whether that's through massages or guiding you through an exercise regime suited to low back pain, chiropractors are experts when it comes to physical pain.
There is a range of different products on the market that can help soothe lower back pain. The BackRelief Acupuncture mat is an incredible alternative to costly medication as long as your pain isn't too severe. Acupuncture can do your back and your emotional health wonders as it offers a soothing therapy that you will quickly notice the benefits of.
What causes chronic back pain?
Especially prevalent as you get older, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common causes of low back pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects joints throughout your entire body, it will typically affect joints on both sides of your body, as opposed to just one.
As arthritis mainly affects joints, it will tend to appear around your hip area, slightly below your lower back. However, it can still cause pain running across your lumbar spine as most pains will travel through the connected nerve root. In extreme cases of arthritis, it can lead to compression of both the nerve root and the spinal cord.
Joint disorders such as arthritis can quickly have an impact on your mental health and emotional wellbeing as they will affect your day-to-day life. If you are worried you may be suffering from arthritis or another disorder that can cause low back pain, then you should get in touch with a trusted doctor.
Spinal Stenosis is essentially the narrowing of space around the spinal cord, which can cause more pressure build-up across your entire spine. The joint pain will most commonly occur around the neck and lower back.
A doctor will be able to give you a physical examination to help diagnose spinal stenosis, which may be the cause of your low back pain. It can be hard to diagnose, however, as some sufferers of spinal stenosis may have zero symptoms. One of the most effective ways of diagnosing stenosis is through imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging.
As most stenosis cases are around the lumbar spine, the best treatment is often laminectomy. This is where a surgeon will remove a specific part of your lumbar vertebrae that is causing added pressure to your spinal or sciatic nerve.
Underlying neurological disorders can surprisingly lead to low back pain, in fact back pain is the 2nd most common neurological disorder, just under headaches. Sciatica is just one of the many disorders that can affect your lower back.
Sciatica is where the pressure on the sciatica nerve can reverberate throughout your entire spine leading to shock-like pain. The pain most commonly occurs in the upper leg and around your buttocks. Regular gentle exercise can help subdue sciatica-related pains, but long-term therapy may be needed.
As spinal discs are easily manipulated, they can cause an array of back problems including, but not limited to, lower back pain. A herniated disc is one of the most common examples of disc issues causing lower back pain. The slipped disc will dig into the soft tissues found around the lumbar spine, which can cause significant trauma.
Heavy lifting and poor form during exercise can quickly lead to a herniated disc, but it can also occur due to old age. There is a range of painkillers that can prevent pain caused by a degenerative disc disease, but exercise can also be key.
How to relieve chronic pain in your lower back
Our backs, especially our spines, are designed to constantly move and change shape. Unlike a lot of muscles or joints, our backs do not respond well to inactivity, which means you should exercise regularly to avoid low back pain.
Take up yoga
Yoga can be great for both your physical and mental health. Certain yoga poses are designed to help alleviate lower back pain and soothe your spinal nerves. The mental health benefits are also incredible as a healthy mind can lead to a healthy body.
Mental health can play a large part in how fast you recover from particular ailments - Which is why yoga is so regularly recommended for low back pain. Make sure to focus on stretches for your spinal canal, you could even make a back pain fact sheet to refer back to during your yoga sessions.
Invest in a good mattress
When sleeping we almost entirely lose control of our body, which can mean we will sleep in uncomfortable positions without even realizing it. One of the best ways to avoid this is through the use of a good mattress.
There is a range of mattresses available that can help prevent back pain such as memory foam and heated mattresses - So finding the right one for you shouldn't be too much of a struggle.
A good mattress will offer pain relief throughout the night and can help prevent aches associated with awkward sleeping positions. If you tend to be the sort of person who struggles to get comfortable on a night, then this could very well be the solution for your lower back pain.
Change your diet
Your diet has a surprisingly large to play when it comes to aches and pains throughout the body, and the lower back is no different. A varied and healthy diet can do wonders for lower back pain and is a great accompaniment to physical exercise.
Maintaining a healthy weight may help you when it comes to physical ailments such as lower back pain. Less weight will usually mean less stress on your spinal cord, but do not overdo this as obsessing over weight loss can quickly become dangerous.
Before you dive into a new diet or exercise plan, be sure to consult your doctor, especially if you have musculoskeletal and skin diseases or any other underlying conditions such as diabetes. Your doctor will be able to help you find a plan that works for you, without putting your overall health at risk.
Few problems in life can affect you in as many ways as lower back pain can. Not only can the pain quickly become overwhelming, but it can also impact our mental health. However, you don't need to feel helpless if you are struck by lower back pain.
With so many ways to temporarily, or even permanently avoid lower back pain, you no longer need to let it control your life.
Hopefully, we have helped you find ways you can look after yourself if low back pain is becoming a worry. Whether through physical therapy or by investing in a trusted pain relief product, back pain can quickly become a thing of the past!
When should you see a doctor for low back pain?
If you have severe pain or the pain hasn't passed within 48 hours, then you should contact your local doctor as soon as possible. We are not trained medical experts so we can't offer you personal advice, whereas your doctor can.
As with all aches and pains, your doctor will know the right steps to take to alleviate your lower back pain and find the relief you deserve.
How can I relieve pain caused in my back from pregnancy?
One of the best ways to prevent pain from building up in your back whilst pregnant is to constantly maintain a good posture. Light exercises should also be considered, but discuss with your GP what they would advise as particular exercises should be avoided when you are pregnant.
Can mental health impact back pain?
There are some links to your mental health and your physical health, especially when it comes to lower back pain. Depression and anxiety can build up stress across your body which can lead to added lower back pain.
Mental health can also affect your sleeping pattern, which will cause pain to become heightened throughout your body. If you are unable to sleep at night, then you may aggravate your back pain as you constantly shift around to find that one 'comfy' position.
To help prevent increased chronic pain, ensure you keep your mind as healthy as your body. Yoga is a great way to do this!
How long does lower back pain last?
The length of your lower back pain will depend entirely on the cause of your pain. Some pains may last only a couple of hours or a day, whereas other pain can last months or sometimes even years. If your pain has been around for an extended period, then you should always speak to a medical professional.
Chronic pain will usually build up over time and can last your entire life, whereas acute pain shouldn't last more than a few weeks. A doctor will be able to help you decide on what type of low back pain you are suffering from and how best to relieve it where possible.